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This article is about the first part of the Goku Saga. For the whole saga, see Goku Saga.

"I never thought that life could be such a neat adventure."
Goku at the end of The Legend of Goku

Emperor Pilaf Saga (ピラフ編 Pirafu Hen, lit. "Pilaf Arc"), also known as The Saga of Goku, the Goku and Bulma Saga (悟空とブルマ編 Gokū to Buruma Hen) in the Dragon Box release, or as the Search for the Dragon Ball Saga (ドラゴンボール探さがし編 Doragon Bōru Sagashi Hen, lit. "Hunt for the Dragon Balls Arc") in Daizenshuu 2, is the first saga in the Dragon Ball manga and anime. The manga volumes that it is made up of are "The Monkey King" and "Wish Upon a Dragon". It is in this saga that Goku and Bulma meet, and where they also meet allies Yamcha, Puar, Oolong, Master Roshi, Turtle, Chi-Chi, Ox-King and others. The main antagonist of the saga is Emperor Pilaf and his underlings, Shu and Mai, though technically most of the allies-to-be started out as antagonists.

Unlike later sagas, the first adventures are very episodic. Characters and situations are introduced and resolved in single issue/episode and they are connected only via the attempt to locate the Dragon Balls, which are the source of most of the battles and challenges which unfold during this saga and much of the series. The anime edition of this saga introduced Emperor Pilaf (and his underlings) much earlier and provided a more cohesive arc over the initial episodes.

Some of the characters and situations in this first part of the Dragon Ball plot are rehashed from Akira Toriyama's earlier pilot, Dragon Boy. In addition, the influence of the Chinese folk-novel Journey to the West is at its peak at this early stage. This saga has also been retold in the movies Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies and Dragon Ball: The Path to Power, and Dragonball Evolution, as well as the illegal movie adaptations Dragon Ball: Ssawora Son Goku, Igyeora Son Goku and Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins, but all feature different villains and some are merged with other sagas.


Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.

Beginning the Adventure

Goku and Bulma first meet

One day on Mount Paozu, a young monkey tailed boy named Goku was finished with his daily chores and saw that his late adoptive grandpa's Dragon Ball was glowing, which is the 4-Star Dragon Ball. Later on when on his way back home with a Giant Fish he was going to eat for lunch he was rammed into by a car driven by a young teenage girl named Bulma. At first Goku thought the Dyno Cap car Bulma was driving was a monster but then revealed she was a human girl. Bulma came with Goku to his house to eat lunch with him but Bulma saw that he had the Dragon Ball she was looking for. Goku refused to give her it and she told him the legend of the dragon known as Shenron, and Goku decided to join Bulma on her quest to acquire the seven mystical balls. After encountering a hungry pterodactyl the two then set up camp later. Goku was then introduced to technology and was given a bath when Bulma set up the Capsule House.

Goku receives the Flying Nimbus

The next morning Goku ends up meeting a Sea Turtle outside of the house while waiting for Bulma to get ready. Goku and Bulma end up postponing their quest to help the sea turtle. On their way Goku defeats a Bear Thief which then impressed Bulma having her more confident in Goku's ability. When they came to the ocean the turtle brought back his master, the Turtle Hermit later to be known as Master Roshi, who had another Dragon Ball in his possession. Being thankful for Goku's help, he gave him the Flying Nimbus. Roshi also gave Bulma his Dragon Ball in exchange for showing the old master her underwear.

Taking on Oolong

Goku, not intimidated by Oolong's transformation

Three days later, Goku and Bulma end up in Aru Village, where they are mistaken for Oolong, a shape shifter who has been kidnapping the daughters of the villagers. When Bulma learned that Grandma Paozu, an old lady in the village, had a Dragon Ball, she cut a deal: she and Goku would recover the missing girls in exchange for the Dragon Ball. She forced Goku to disguise himself as Pocawatha (Oolong's next target) to find out where Oolong was kidnapping the girls. When the plan failed, Goku decided to battle Oolong and capture him. Oolong was forced to reveal his true form: a talking pig. He also returned the girls he had kidnapped to their families, and Bulma was given another Dragon Ball for fulfilling her end of the bargain.

Dangers in the Diablo Desert

Goku and Yamcha's Battle

After the village was saved Bulma forced Oolong to join them, thinking his shape shifting ability would be useful. When Oolong objected, Bulma gave him a special vitamin that induced a sudden and urgent need go to the bathroom whenever he hears the word "piggy." Bulma however, loses her Dynocaps, along with all of her vehicles. After walking a couple of miles they end up in the Diablo Desert, where Bulma passes out in the heat. While she passes out in the heat a Desert Bandit named Yamcha and his sidekick Puar (who was a former acquaintance of Oolong) ambush Goku and Oolong and try to rob them. Goku fights back with his power pole revealing to Yamcha that Goku is the grandson of a legendary martial artist named Gohan. Yamcha uses a powerful attack called Wolf Fang Fist, which is Yamcha's signature move, to knock Goku into rocks trapping him under rubble. Just before Oolong gives up his capsule, Goku comes back with a little bit of energy left and sends Yamcha in a rage which is stopped when Bulma wakes up and Yamcha is scared off due to his fear of women.

Yamcha and Puar stalk Goku and the others

Later that night in Oolong's House-Wagon, Bulma is taking a shower when Yamcha and Puar come again to spy on them. Yamcha ends up seeing Bulma naked and then goes to the other window and hears Goku tell Oolong about the Dragon Balls. Yamcha hears the conversation and then dedicates his mission to getting the Dragon Balls instead of robbing them. When Bulma and Goku fall asleep from Oolong's special juice, Oolong is interrupted when trying to search the room Bulma is sleeping in. Puar who is disguised as Goku ends up luring Oolong who is disguised as Bulma out of the trailer for Yamcha to go and steal the balls. Yamcha ends up failing when he sees Bulma completely naked.

The next morning Bulma is disappointed that the only clothes she has that would fit her is a bunny costume. Yamcha who is outside shoots down the house wagon with a bazooka and knocks Bulma out. Goku ends up having a rematch with Yamcha and knocks his tooth out in battle. Yamcha then surrenders and comes up with a different idea and let them collect the Dragon Balls and give them a car with a tracker.

The Destruction of Fire Mountain

Master Roshi launches the Kamehameha Wave at Fire Mountain

After traveling awhile they end up at Fire Mountain which is the site for their sixth Dragon Ball. Oolong was scared to go because he knew legends of the Ox-King and knew he would kill them. Bulma forced Oolong to come with them to go find the ball. Goku went to the top with the flying nimbus but it was too hot for him to manage. When he got down to tell Bulma the Ox-King began to fight Goku in battle. At first the Ox-King seemed to be much for Goku but when Goku got on the Nimbus the Ox-King changed his mind and asked Goku to go with his daughter Chi-Chi to get the Bansho Fan to put out the fire from Master Roshi who was his and Gohan's Martial Arts Teacher.

When Goku and Chi-Chi got to Master Roshi's house, Chi-Chi was not convinced that the old man was really Master Roshi so she decided to test him by throwing the blade that was atop her helmet straight at Roshi while his back was turned. Roshi tried to deflect the attack with his can but ended up getting a blow to the head. After Roshi showed his id to the two, he went on to say that he had threw away the Bansho Fan along time ago but agreed to put the fire out himself if he was allowed to touch Bulma's breasts. When they got back to Fire Mountain Master Roshi revealed a powerful technique called the Kamehameha Wave and destroyed the mountain. Under the rubble Bulma found the sixth Dragon Ball. Goku who was amazed by the wave and tried to perform it himself but ended up destroying the car Yamcha had gave them. The Ox-King was thankful for getting rid of the fire and gave them his car. Just before they left Chi-Chi asked Goku if they would ever see each other again and Goku agreed.

Conflict with the Rabbit Mob

Monster Carrot threatening to eat Bulma who got turned into a carrot

On their way to the final Dragon Ball, Oolong sees that the car is low on gas and decides to stop at the closest town to fill up. While there everyone looked in fear of Bulma who was still in the Bunny Costume Oolong had given her. While in town, Bulma was able to get free stuff. When she got different clothes on everyone stop being afraid of her because she was mistaken as a member of a local gang called the Rabbit Mob. Once Bulma met back up with Oolong and Goku they see two members of the Rabbit Mob bullying the villagers. When they noticed Bulma they started to hit on her but when she rejected them they got mad and Goku came and defeated the two in a matter of seconds. Afterwards the two called their boss over which then caused the whole town to run in panic. When the boss of the rabbit mob Monster Carrot showed up he turned Bulma into a Carrot with his handshake. Monster Carrot then threatened Goku to not move or he would eat Bulma allowing the two members to beat up Goku. Yamcha and Puar who were still hiding decided to temporarily switch sides and help Goku defeat Monster Carrot. Puar turned into a bird and stole the carrot while Goku and Yamcha tried to fight Monster Carrot. Puar dropped the carrot when crashing into a mushroom tree and Goku caught it. Monster Carrot then got scared off when Puar transformed into him and threatened to touch him. Monster Carrot then turned Bulma back to normal and was tied up with his two minions and taken to the moon where they were forced to make marshmallow treats for children.

Emperor Pilaf and the Eternal Dragon

Yamcha, Goku, Bulma, Oolong, and Puar trapped in a room made by Emperor Pilaf

Goku and Bulma were not the only ones seeking the magical Dragon Balls. A small, blue-skinned man named Emperor Pilaf was also seeking the Balls, with his wish being to become supreme ruler of the entire world. Assisting Pilaf are his two close followers Shu, a small fox-like man, and Mai, a beautiful foot-soldier. Many of Pilaf's attempts to steal the Dragon Balls away from Goku are foiled by the young warrior, causing great embarrassment to the villains. However, he is able to finally steal all seven balls from our heroes by trapping them in a room and knocking them out with sleeping gas. Without delay, Pilaf rushes to his castle and summons the Eternal Dragon, Shenron, but before he can make his one wish come true, Oolong jumps in at the last minute to put a stop to it by wishing for his own pair of women's undergarments, the most comfortable in the world. After doing so the balls gather in the sky and are separated once more, never to be used for another year. An enraged Pilaf imprisons the heroes in his castle.

The Great Ape

Goku going on a rampage in his Great Ape transformation

Later that night, Goku tells the story of his grandfather, Gohan, and tells of his untimely demise. A great and terrible beast came upon Gohan's shack one night and crushed the old man to death. This was also the night of a full moon. Upon finishing the story, Goku witnesses the full moon peeking in through the roof of their cell. This causes Goku to lose all sense of himself and transform into a giant, deadly ape-like monster. The monster immediately proceeds to lay waste to the castle. Pilaf and his minions escape the castle in time, but Yamcha and the rest of the gang must now find a way to help their enraged friend. Puar changes into a pair of scissors and cuts off Goku's tail, changing the frightening beast back into the small, peaceful child. Morning comes and Goku awakes with no memory of the night's events. The experience now confirms to the rest of the gang that it was indeed Goku himself who was responsible for Gohan's tragic death, though all of them agree to never tell Goku as the knowledge would undoubtedly crush the boy's soul.

Goku departing from his friends

As Goku awakens the next morning naked and missing his tail, Oolong gives him his pants to cover up as Goku goes to find his Power Pole in the ruins of Pilaf's Castle. Bulma and Yamcha decide to become boyfriend and girlfriend as they decides to head back to her hometown of West City. She gives Goku the Dragon Radar so that he may go after his grandfathers Dragon Ball when it can be detected again in a year. As Goku goes his own separate way to get strong and train under Master Roshi, he goes aboard the Flying Nimbus and waves goodbye to his friends for the first time as they fly off in a Capsule plane ending their journey.

Anime and Manga Differences

  • In the manga, The Pilaf Gang did not appear until after Goku and the others had confronted Monster Carrot. In the anime, The Pilaf Gang were introduced from the first episode.
  • In the manga, Bulma never hit Goku with her car as she stopped before that could happen.
  • Goku searching in Skull Valley for food and fighting off wolves while Mai and Shu cower and have their plane taken out by Goku who thinks it is a bird is exclusive to the anime.
  • In the anime, Goku enters the lake to search for Oolong. In the manga, Bulma stops him before he enters the lake by calling out "Piggy" to lure out Oolong.
  • In the manga, the Ox King does not attack Goku, simply asking how he got the Flying Nimbus straight away. In the anime, he first attacks Goku with his axe and Goku eventually uses the Flying Nimbus to fly around him and make him dizzy.
  • The scene of Goku, Bulma, Oolong, Yamcha and Puar running away from the giant pinball is exclusive to the anime.
  • The group's escape from Pilaf's prison cell as well as their running away from Shu's "Dog Police" is also exclusive to the anime.


Major characters

Supporting characters

Battles Featured

  • Goku vs. Giant Fish
  • Goku vs. Bulma
  • Goku vs. Pterodactyl
  • Goku vs. Wolves (anime only)
  • Goku vs. Bear Thief
  • Goku vs. Sherman Priest
  • Goku vs. Oolong
  • Johnny vs. Oolong
  • Goku vs. Yamcha
  • Puar vs. Oolong
  • Goku vs. Yamcha
  • Chi-Chi vs. T-Rex
  • Yamcha vs. Chi-Chi
  • Goku vs. Ox-King (anime only)
  • Chi-Chi vs. Master Roshi
  • Goku vs. Rabbit Mob
  • Goku vs. Monster Carrot
  • Yamcha vs. Rabbit Mob
  • Goku, Yamcha, and Puar vs. Monster Carrot
  • Goku and Yamcha vs. Shu and Mai
  • Goku and Yamcha vs. Shu's Dog Police (anime only)
  • Pilaf, Shu, and Mai vs. Goku (Great Ape)
  • Yamcha, Puar, and Oolong vs. Goku (Great Ape)


KidMark VHS Volumes

  • The Saga of Goku - Secret of the Dragon Balls (1-2) [Edited]
  • The Saga of Goku - Nimbus Cloud of Roshi (3-4) [Edited]
  • The Saga of Goku - Yamcha the Desert Bandit (5-6) [Edited]
  • The Saga of Goku - Ox King on Fire Mountain (7-8) [Edited]
  • The Saga of Goku - Boss Rabbit's Magic Touch (9-10) [Edited]
  • The Saga of Goku - The Legend of Goku (11-13) [Edited]

KidMark DVD Volumes

Funimation Saga Sets

  • The Saga of Goku (1-13 Uncut + KidMark dub of Curse of the Blood Rubies) [R4 PAL only]

Funimation Remastered DVD Sets

Manga Chapters

Chapter # Title
1 "Bloomers and the Monkey King"
2 "No Balls!"
3 "Sea Monkeys"
4 "They Call Him...the Turtle Hermit!"
5 "Oo! Oo! Oolong!"
6 "So Long, Oolong!"
7 "Yamcha and Pu'ar"
8 "One, Two, Yamcha-Cha!"
9 "Dragon Balls in Danger"
10 "Onward to Fry-Pan..."
11 "...And into the Fire!"
12 "In Search of Kame-Sen'nin"
13 "Fanning the Flame"
14 "Kame Kame Kame Kame Kame Chameleon"
15 "At Sixes and Sevens"
16 "One Goal, One Enemy"
17 "Carrot Top"
18 "Who's Got My Balls?!"
19 "At Last... the Dragon!"
20 "Just One Wish!!"
21 "Full Moon"
22 "The End of the Tale"
23 "Separate Ways"

Episode List

Ep# Title
1 "The Secret of the Dragon Balls"
Bulma's search for six more Dragon Balls leads her to a remote valley and to Goku, who is in possession of one of the balls. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start, but after Goku saves Bulma's life, the two join forces in search of the remaining five Dragon Balls. They had better take care, for an evil force - Emperor Pilaf - also seeks the Dragon Balls.
2 "The Emperor's Quest"
Without realizing where they are, Bulma and Goku camp near Skull Valley, a foreboding land where one of the Dragon Balls lies hidden. Emperor Pilaf dispatches his henchmen to recover the ball, but they and Goku run into each other and a pack of ravenous wolves. Who will emerge the winner?
3 "The Nimbus Cloud of Roshi"
As a token of appreciation, Master Roshi presents Goku the Flying Nimbus Cloud, a magical flying cloud that can be ridden only by someone pure of heart. He gives Bulma an orange bauble that he wears around his neck, a seemingly worthless stone that had washed up on the beach. It turns out that this "bauble" is in fact a Dragon Ball. Unfortunately for our friends, Emperor Pilaf and his aids, Mai and Shu, are also after this same Dragon Ball...and now they know that Bulma has it.
4 "Oolong the Terrible"
Bulma and Goku's search for the Dragon Balls takes them to the remote valley where they encounter Oolong, a shape-changing monster who is terrorizing Aru Village. They are promised a Dragon Ball by the local townspeople if they can defeat the fierce monster. Can our heroes possibly defeat this wily creature?
5 "Yamcha the Desert Bandit"
Bulma and Goku continue their quest for the Dragon Balls with Oolong. But the next Dragon Ball lies beyond the Diablo Desert. Oolong is terrifies, for he knows that the Diablo Desert is home to Yamcha, a fearsome bandit who possesses the awesome power of the Wolf Fang Fist. Can our friends make it through the desert to their destination?
6 "Keep an Eye on the Dragon Balls"
While Bulma, Goku and Oolong recover from the ordeal of acquiring five Dragon Balls, Yamcha and Puar try to steal them out from under their noses so that Yamcha can obtain his own grandiose goal. But they're not the only ones after the Dragon Balls! Oolong would not mind having the Dragon Balls, and Emperor Pilaf's henchmen are closing in as well.
7 "The Ox King on Fire Mountain"
The search for the sixth Dragon Ball leads the Dragon Ball Team to Fire Mountain, home of the dreaded Ox-King. They arrive at the base of the mountain, but the scorching Eternal Flames prevent them from reaching the castle at the summit and the Dragon Ball within. To make matters worse, Ox-King appears to ward off intruders. Will our heroes be able to capture the sixth Dragon Ball?
8 "The Kamehameha Wave"
Master Roshi, who appears to be a wise but feeble old man, reveals that he is a master of the "Kamehameha", an ancient and formidable force. The power, which he channels through his hands, creates a wave of tremendous destruction that can topple mountains.
9 "Boss Rabbit's Magic Touch"
Bulma and Goku's search for the Dragon Balls takes them to a remote village that is being terrorized by a villainous gang, the Rabbits. Before long, Goku and Dragon Ball Team come face to face with two of the Rabbits, and Goku must fight to protect his friends. Can he protect them from the surprise Monster Carrot has in store for them?
10 "The Dragon Balls are Stolen!"
The Dragon Ball Team races toward the seventh Dragon Ball. Little do they know that their enemies await them. Can Emperor Pilaf be stopped from gathering the last of the Dragon Balls and making his evil wish?
11 "The Penalty is Pinball"
The Dragon Ball Team escapes their prison to search for Pilaf and the Dragon Balls. Their freedom is short-lived, however, for the Dragon Ball Team stumbles into another one of Pilaf's treacherous traps: a giant pinball machine! The team runs a desperate race through the maze of corridors. What hope can be left for the Dragon Ball Team as they try to stop Pilaf from gaining his evil wish to rule the Earth?
12 "A Wish to the Eternal Dragon"
Just as Emperor Pilaf is about to make his wish, Goku leads the others in a successful escape attempt. Are they in time to prevent the Emperor from seizing control of the world? And just what does happen when Goku sees the full moon?
13 "The Legend of Goku"
Goku is exposed to a full moon. Transforming into a huge, alien gorilla, Goku goes on a rampage, attacking friends and foes alike. Can Bulma, Yamcha, and Puar return Goku to his normal self without hurting him and while also avoiding Emperor Pilaf's army?

Dragon Ball SD

In Dragon Ball SD there are several differences to the original story:

The Pilaf Gang track Goku and Bulma using a floating camera device from the start of their journey. When Bulma talks about wishing for an ideal boyfriend using the Dragon Balls, aboard Frieza's spaceship, the young Vegeta sneezes as Nappa and Raditz look on. Goku helps Turtle get up after he is tipped on his back by some troublemakers. When Bulma finds out that Goku is pure and can use the Nimbus she tells him she thinks he will eventually end up like all other men when he grows up - with a flash-forward of Goku talking to Old Kai, using Bulma as part of a deal so Gohan can get his potential unlocked.

The Pilaf Gang hire Yamcha and Puar to track down Goku and Bulma. Chi-Chi shows up when Goku and Bulma reach Diablo Desert and accompanies the Dragon Gang until they reach Mt. Frypan. To escape Yamcha, Chi-Chi suggests Oolong turn into someone intimidating, to which he subconsciously turns in a Saibaman, leading to Yamcha falling in fear. The Dragon Gang use the Bansho Fan to put out Mt. Frypan's fire - and accidentally destroy it. After seeing Goku become a Great Ape, Oolong speculates that he could be something like a Yasain from Planet Vegetable.

Video Game Appearances

This saga was adapted in


  • Even though this is the first saga, it is the only one, whether in Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, or Dragon Ball Super to culminate in the seemingly cliche method of a villain coming within a hair's breath of successfully using the Dragon Balls, only to be thwarted within the final moments. In all others, either the main villain had been defeated before the dragon was summoned, they were nowhere near the scene when the dragon was summoned, or they had successfully used the Dragon Balls themselves with minimal interference (see King Piccolo, Golden Frieza, and "Future" Trunks Sagas).
  • This saga is the first one through Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super that presents a Transformation, which is Goku turning into a Great Ape.

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